Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid
Original Soundtrack Recording
Director Sam Peckinpah didn’t know who Dylan was when it was recommended he be brought in to write music for his film. So Dylan went down to Mexico to audition:
“Sam says, ‘Who’s Bob Dylan?,’” recalls James Coburn.
“Oh yeah, the kids used to listen to his stuff. I was kinda thinkin’ of that guy Roger whatsisname, King of the Road guy, to do it.” And we all said, “What!! You gotta see Dylan,”…He said, “Okay, bring Dylan down.”…So the night we were over at Sam’s house and we were all drinking tequila and carrying on and halfway through dinner, Sam says, “Okay, kid, let’s see what you got. You bring your guitar with you?” They went in this little alcove. Sam had a rocking chair. Bobby sat down on a stool in front of this rocking chair. There was just the two of them in there…And Bobby played [his songs]. And Sam came out with his handkerchief in his eye: “Goddamn kid! Who the hell is he? Who is that kid? Sign him up!”
The story also goes when Dylan first showed up on the set of Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid to play his part as “Alias”, Kris Kristofferson joined him while director Sam Peckinpah showed them some dailies and Peckinpah was so pissed at the quality of the footage he stood up on his chair and pissed on the screen (Someone should compile all of the ‘people pissing on things’ stories like Jackson Pollock peeing into Peggy Guggenheim’s fireplace and separate the book into two sections – people who were drunk when they did it, and people who weren’t). All’s I can say is I love this movie, even the cut-version (sorry Sam), and I love the soundtrack especially “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” (who doesn’t?).
On “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”:
Drummer Jim Keltner cried, “There weren’t any overdubs on that, the singers were singing live, little pump organ, Roger McGuinn I think played [guitar]. This was for a particular scene in the movie when Slim Pickens is dying and that’s the first time I ever cried while I played. It was the combination of the words, Bob’s voice, the actual music itself, the changes, and seeing the screen…In those days you were on a big soundstage, and you had this massive screen that you can see on the wall, [with] the scene…running when you’re playing. I cried through that whole take.”
Jerry Fielding, who was brought in to ‘supervise’ Dylan on his soundtrack, thought, “It was shit.”
Starring Kris Kristofferson, James Coburn, and a cast of the crustiest cowboy character actors this side of Durango – Chill Wills, Katy Jurado, Jack Elam, Slim Pickens, Barry Sullivan, Dub Taylor, R.G. Armstrong, Elisha Cook, Jr. and Paul Fix. And of course Bob Dylan as “Alias”. Released in 1973 the soundtrack came out the same year.
I had an opportunity to see Eric Clapton perform “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” in Philly in the later ’70s and it was the highlight of his portion of that show. Muddy Waters had opened for Clapton which was the highlight of the entire show.